Live At River Plate (DVD)
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/15/2011
When I first got into AC/DC, I was a pimply-faced kid of about 14 years old. These days, the face that looks back at me in the mirror isn’t that 14-year-old; it’s a 40-year-old one (though there are still occasionally pimples – God’s little joke on me, I guess).
So, I guess I shouldn’t be terribly surprised that, as I’ve gotten older, AC/DC has, too. These aren’t the same thirty-somethings that have been shredding people’s eardrums for nearly 40 years now – hell, Brian Johnson is 63! – but, in some remnant of my 14-year-old mind, Angus Young would always be running around the stage like a caffeinated Tasmanian Devil, shaking his wild mane of hair as he bathed his beloved Gibson SG in sweat.
Their latest concert video, Live At River Plate, demonstrates two things to me. First, David Mallet may be a tremendous video producer, but his over-reliance on crowd shots – even when it features scantily-clad
Described by their label as the ultimate AC/DC live video, it does showcase a band being welcomed with open arms by a market who doesn’t often get to see the band in the flesh – and they celebrate every single note played with tremendous joy. And Johnson – whose vocals on some albums and tours have sounded like he gargled with sulfuric acid – proves to be in fine voice.
But this series of dates from the Black Ice tour seems to suggest that AC/DC is definitely slowing down. Angus Young still works up a serious sweat on the stage, but at least for the first half of the show, it seems like the whirling-dervish Angus is gone, replaced by one who moves a little less, and a little slower. Likewise, his guitar solos seem to be lacking the bite that they have always had – there just doesn’t seem to be the fluidity that he once commanded.
And as fine of voice as Brian Johnson is in – he sounds even better than he did on the Stiff Upper Lip – Live DVD – you still have to cringe when the band drops the tuning on a few songs… egads, even on one of the newer tracks, “Rock And Roll Train”! Maybe I should just be happy that AC/DC is still out there recording and touring, but I still like hearing songs in the actual key they were recorded in.
In terms of the musical selection – well, let’s be honest. AC/DC is at the stage where they’re damned if they do include a certain song, and they’re damned if they don’t. Yes, I like hearing “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Back In Black,” even if it’s for the two thousandth time. And, yes, the four songs from Black Ice fit into the show well. But, would it kill the lads to include more chestnuts from their history? I mean, albums like Flick Of The Switch and Fly On The Wall – admittedly, not the most popular in their library – are completely ignored. Just one DVD ago, they dug “Up To My Neck In You” out of cold storage, and it was wonderful to hear.
As for Mallet’s shot choices – look, buddy, when I pay twenty dollars for a Blu-Ray of arguably my favorite band in the whole universe, I want to see the fucking band play, not pan-and-scan aerial shots of the crowd or someone who has more tattoos than Tommy Lee. Yes, the women are absolutely gorgeous… but I’d rather focus on possibly seeing Angus Young go nuts during a guitar solo.
A similar complaint can be aired about the documentary that is tacked onto this disc – yeah, I’ll concede hearing from some of the techs and seeing how they put the stage show together is interesting. But, do I really give a shit about the band – in their only real appearance in the bonus footage – talking about the huge steaks they had for dinner? Do I really need the backstory of nearly every person who waited in line to get tickets, or got interviewed on local radio? This was an absolute waste of my time; I’d have rather heard Angus, Brian and the lads talking about why it took them so long to get back to
Live At River Plate does indeed capture AC/DC at a peak during their most recent tour, but I’d be hard-pressed to say it is the definitive concert film of the band’s career. Had there been more focus on the bread – namely, the band – and not the circuses, it could well have lived up to the hype.